Handheld Instrument for Nerve Agent Detection

Period of Performance: 10/19/2007 - 10/19/2009


Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Kumetrix, Inc.
Union City, CA 94587
Principal Investigator


Rapid detection and identification of chemical warfare nerve agents (CWNAs) are critical to the screening and subsequent treatment of exposed warfighters. Inhibition of cholinesterase activity is insufficient as a marker of exposure to CWNAs, in that it can give misleading results and does not distinguish CWNAs from commonly employed pesticides. This proposal presents a revolutionary field-portable diagnostic instrument capable of the detection and identification of specific CWNAs. True retrospective interrogation and identification of exposure to CWNAs results from the synergy between a new class of protein markers, immunological selectivity, and a sensitive electrochemical amplification technique. Design will be based on a microsampling and assay disposable silicon microchip, pioneered in the proposer s laboratory using MEMS (microelectromechanical systems) technology. The microchip consists of a hollow silicon microneedle comparable in cross-section to a human hair integrated with lab-on-a-chip microfluidics. Silicon microfabrication technology developed for the manufacture of electronic integrated circuits can produce these microchips in high volume at low unit cost. In conjunction with the fabrication of the BioMEMS disposable detection chip, a prototype hand-held portable instrument will be constructed during the Phase II program. The initial BioMEMS microchip instrument system will be designed for detection and identification of CWNAs, but is adaptable to other chemical warfare agent such as: vesicants, pulmonary agents, and cyanides.